This isn’t the time for rallying calls and it isn’t the time for doom and gloom. It’s time for realism. That’s tough to come by in the days after losing a final and unfortunately we’re doing that a lot at the moment. But whilst we can’t point at one thing that caused the derailment in Kiev, we need to make sure that we get the opportunity to right this wrong as soon as we can.
In spite of the pain I’m feeling currently, there’s arguably only Manchester City’s season I’d swap with. I wouldn’t swap with any of the other teams that finished above us. We’re in a good place right now with a huge summer to come. What we need to do now is bounce back and make sure that this is the beginning and not the end.
Jürgen Klopp has managed us for two full seasons now and he has managed to get us into the Champions League in back to back seasons for the first time since the tail end of the 2010s. We get to have another swing at that tournament next season and the importance of being in the top four cannot be underestimated. In spite of losing to Real Madrid, we’re now £70m richer as a result of our journey to the final.
Of course, football finances aren’t as simple as that, but that is Naby Keita paid for with some change. When you consider we still have the entirety of the Philippe Coutinho transfer money available to spend you would suggest we’ve some big money signings to make this summer.
And that is why I am confident that Kiev is a blip in the road, not the catastrophe that it currently feels like. We have a manager in place with a vision and a plan. He now needs to do what he has done for the last two summers – spend the money he has available to him on quality. If we can get the likes of Andy Robertson for £7m then that’s absolutely fantastic, but at the same time we need to be targeting the highest level of quality available. If we have to pay a premium, then we’re going to have to do exactly that. Because most other clubs do.
We have caught everyone’s eye in Europe this season and it’s obvious that we’re a team going places. With the way we blasted our way to Kiev, we will have caught the attention of many players. Unless you’re with a rival or one of the bigger Spanish clubs, why wouldn’t you want to be a part of a European night at Anfield? Why wouldn’t you want to play for Jürgen Klopp and immerse yourself in the high octane football that he sets out to play?
If anyone had forgotten who Liverpool Football Club are, they know now. We won a lot of hearts and minds in our road to Kiev. Even until Mo Salah was taken out by football’s equivalent of a professional assassin, we were much the better team for 25 minutes in that final. There is so much to build on here and it will inevitably be forgotten about for a while as we all sulk, which we are completely entitled to do.
And this is where Klopp comes in. He has improved the starting eleven in the last two summers but for my money has not effectively padded out the squad. He needs to do both this summer. We’re going to be a stronger team next season because Naby Keita is dynamite. He will become our best midfielder. But other areas of the team need to be addressed.
He also needs to either smooth out his relationship with Željko Buvač or appoint an assistant manager who is loyal but will question the manager and not be a glorified “yes” man. Klopp has fallen out with his long term assistant before but you do suspect this is the end of the road. If so, Klopp must act decisively and swiftly. Pre-season will soon be here and this issue undoubtedly needs sorting out long in advance of that.
All eyes are on the club’s transfers now and with a World Cup about to take place there will be an expectation that deals will be getting done quickly. I’m sure the club would love to lift the gloom of Reds by announcing a completed transfer this week, but that’s easier said than done. But now the Champions League final is out of the way, the club should be going full steam ahead to get deals done.
With a better first team and a higher quality squad, make no mistake that Liverpool are well equipped to give it a go for the league next season. We probably won’t win it because we’re competing with a team that is being funded by a country and we’ll need Manchester City to make mistakes. If they do, I have every belief that we are right in the mix to jostle for position with them.
It’s ok to go and lick wounds, I’m going to sulk for the rest of the summer about losing the final. The way we lost was a sickener. But I believe it’s a bump in the road – I just hope that the manager and the players sat and said that in the dressing room in Kiev of their own accord.
The fans will recover as we always do – the players and the managers need to do the same.